Italian Parochialism, for a change
September 20, 2012 5:46 AM   Subscribe

Franco Fiorito, also known as Batman, is the (ex) leader and treasurer of Berlusconi's party - Il Popolo della Libertà(PdL) in the Lazio regional council. He is being accused of channeling 800k of the party's funds into 12 of his bank accounts and making extravagant expenditures for his own benefit. Reports say that in court he is more annoyed than afraid: "Yes, I went to two beautiful resorts of the Costa Smeralda with PdL money. The regional election campaign left me exhausted and depressed. I needed a big vacation". Fiorito is now lashing out at other PdL councillors: "There are eight thieves. I didn't steal, I distributed the money."

Fiorito's mother defends him: "Franco has never smoked a cigarette, never went to the disco in his life, is a decent man, very intelligent, he studies a lot, he was promoted to eighth grade with honours, at three years old he was already reading Mickey Mouse comic books."

Fiorito's lawyer wants the offense reclassified: "Personally I object to the classification of the offense. The embezzlement, for me, has no reason to exist because 'groups and parties are private entities". In 1967, the Financial Times was saying "According to the law, the parties are free associations. They have no obligation of any kind with regard to the organization, the appointment of officials, the source of funds. The financial statements are not published, nor members can see them. These parties are like tumors whose roots continue to spread. " The Italian parliament has rejected a proposal to have party accounts certified by external auditors this week.
posted by Marauding Ennui (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't believe you just outed Batman.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:51 AM on September 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is as good a place as anywhere else to link to the recently-leaked pictures of Berlusconi's taxpayer-financed underground lair.

And the embezzlement of party funds is a serious offence because the expenses Italy's parties are mostly covered by the taxpayer as well...
posted by Skeptic at 5:53 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If everyone whose job left them exhausted and depressed embezzled money from their employer to pay for a big vacation, capitalism would collapse.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:57 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


never went to the disco in his life

I'm destined for heaven.
posted by DU at 6:00 AM on September 20, 2012


In this thread about the high cost of American public construction, I remembered this line:

Observe from the low costs of Italian subways that corruption alone cannot explain high American and British costs.

Public corruption is so endemic in Italy that even economic comparisons must take it into account.

Of course this man is indignant about being singled out! I mean it's not really illegal if everyone else is doing it.
posted by three blind mice at 6:00 AM on September 20, 2012


The cave, which could have come straight out of a James Bond film, features a swimming pool, its floor decorated with a mosaic of Poseidon, the god of the sea, holding a trident.

Holy crap their country is being run by DIABOLIK
posted by The Whelk at 6:02 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is as good a place as anywhere else to link to the recently-leaked pictures of Berlusconi's taxpayer-financed underground lair.

How many Batmen do they have in Italy, anyway?
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:10 AM on September 20, 2012


"There are eight thieves. I didn't steal, I distributed the money."

THAT. YOU. STOLE.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:14 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, hey, now. Let's back off a little bit.

On second thought, let's not.
posted by flippant at 6:22 AM on September 20, 2012


Well, Italy is sort of new to this notion of democratic process in a unified republic. We ought to give them a little time to ramp up, like we do for other nascent democracies in the developing world.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:30 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe you just outed Batman.

That's just not cricket.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:18 AM on September 20, 2012


This is as good a place as anywhere else to link to the recently-leaked pictures of Berlusconi's taxpayer-financed underground lair.

I clicked the above link fully expecting to see this.

Color me disappointed. I'll have to spend the rest of the day looking at Sprang's art to make up for it.
posted by arkham_inmate_0801 at 7:22 AM on September 20, 2012


Any country run by Batman and Super Mario is a country I want to live in.
posted by spamguy at 7:48 AM on September 20, 2012


Ah, Italia. How I miss you.
posted by bq at 7:57 AM on September 20, 2012


Honestly, I'm having a hard time believing that anyone who read Mickey Mouse comic books at the tender age of three would be capable of embezzling hundreds of thousands of euros of public money.
posted by faustdick at 8:17 AM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I'm having a hard time believing that anyone who read Mickey Mouse comic books at the tender age of three would be capable of embezzling hundreds of thousands of euros of public money.

Uncle Scrooge comics, maybe.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:20 AM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, Italy is sort of new to this notion of democratic process in a unified republic. We ought to give them a little time to ramp up, like we do for other nascent democracies in the developing world.

You are kidding, but if you read this, you can see that Italy became a democratic republic in 1946 and was governed for decades by Christian Democrats, in part because a NATO member couldn't be suffered to have a communist government. After that followed the years of lead, which were not a great era of democracy either. Corruption in Italy didn't occur in a vacuum.
posted by ersatz at 5:06 AM on September 21, 2012


How many Batmen do they have in Italy, anyway?

Two, actually. The other is the son of the previous mayoress of Milan, who had four apartments knocked together to create a maxi-loft with pool, wellness centre, gym, and a motorised trapdoor leading to a hidden firing range, among other attractions, but had it registered as "commercial premises". It only came out when the company hired to create the "Batman's hideout" took him to court for not fully paying the costs, and the tax-man decided to go and take a look. The press immediately and gleefully nicknamed him Batman.

The Italian parliament has rejected a proposal to have party accounts certified by external auditors this week.

Quite correct at the time of writing, but for the record the public outcry was so intense that they voted a U-turn 24 hours later. Not that they'll risk much: they are already beginning to say that they didn't keep receipts because they weren't required to at the time.

But on the whole I'm surprised that the Fiorito case is causing so much astonishment outside of Italy: it's pretty much par for the course here. Its intrinsic squalor isn't so much interesting as the sheer number of such cases coming to light in recent times, and people are becoming quite exercised about being asked (and then forced) to make sacrifices to save the economy while the politicians continue to spend and spend.
posted by aqsakal at 6:27 AM on September 21, 2012


@ersatz, I actually wasn't kidding. It still surprises me that place-names that we associate entire chunks of history going back to /pre-history/ are often very new countries (as defined by the League of Nations and the UN in recent times). e.g.: Spain, Greece, Italy, etc.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:23 AM on September 21, 2012


Italian politician slashes disabled driver's tyres in parking dispute
posted by homunculus at 11:10 AM on October 4, 2012


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